Avatar's Zoe Saldaña Shares The 'Key Note' From James Cameron That Has Always 'Stayed With' Her

Zoe Saldana in Avatar.
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

When it comes to James Cameron, it’s difficult to not believe the hype. The writer and director has made several of the most popular and successful movies of all time. Cameron has a very clear vision of what he wants his movies to be, and that means he expects very specific things from his actors. Avatar’s Zoe Saldaña says there’s one note that came from Cameron in the early days of the first Avatar that she’s carried with her into the sequel.

In a recent appearance talking movies and hot wings on First We Feast, Zoe Saldaña explains that, as the first person cast in the original Avatar she had a hand in helping to form not just her own character of Neytiri, but also the Na’Vi as a race. One element of who the Na’Vi are came from Cameron, who revealed to Saldaña a key aspect of the aliens, that they are incapable of lying. The actress explained… 

Yeah, a key note for me as I was putting Neytiri together and because I was the first person cast I was working with all these people and we were building the Na'vi together. And we were part of a team and it just felt so great in the way that they walked and the way that they turned around and things like that. And I remember that one day Jim was like, 'You need to understand they don't lie. It's not in their natures.' So that kind of stayed with me and I tried to always process that. Whatever it is that you tell her, she'll believe it. And whatever it is that she's thinking she'll say it. That always stayed with me.

Certainly, a race that is incapable of telling a lie, that doesn't really understand what that is, is going to be very alien to the audience watching the film, and alien to the human beings that are in the film. It’s part of what separates these people and prevents them from properly understanding each other. It’s also what allows humanity take advantage of the Na’Vi.

How this might manifest in Avatar: The Way of Water, we don’t know yet. While the movie has had its world premiere, and some critics have seen it, most of us still have a little over a week to wait. But it certainly sounds like Zoe Saldaña remembered this note from James Cameron while making Avatar 2 and Avatar 3.

A lot of the early word is that the Avatar sequel may be the revolution that the first movie was. The sequel has a high bar to clear, with the original Avatar being the highest grossing film of all-time.

Many, including James Cameron, have wondered if a sequel to Avatar may be too late. There's a feeling that Avatar just hasn't had the cultural staying power of other films. The box office will be the ultimate judge. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.